Wed Oct 13 8:47pm ET
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
In this Oct. 7, 2021, file photo, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett is defended by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Robert Rochell (31) during an NFL football game in Seattle. Just one week ago, Rochell was a rookie cornerback hoping to contribute on special teams while he waited for the opportunity to make plays for the Rams' defense. When the Rams visit the New York Giants on Sunday, there's a good chance this fourth-round pick from Central Arkansas will spend his fifth career NFL game as a starting cornerback for Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ben VanHouten, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Just one week ago, Robert Rochell was a rookie cornerback hoping to contribute on special teams while he waited for the opportunity to make plays for the Los Angeles Rams' defense.
When the Rams (4-1) visit the New York Giants on Sunday, there's a good chance the fourth-round pick from Central Arkansas will spend his fifth career NFL game as a starting defensive back for Los Angeles.
''I never thought I would be in this situation this early in my career,'' Rochell said. ''But rookie is just a title.''
Rochell is attempting to seize an opportunity for which he might not really be ready. David Long's inconsistent play thrust Rochell into a prominent role for the Rams last Thursday in Seattle, where starting cornerback Darious Williams incurred an ankle injury that makes it fairly certain Rochell will be playing a whole lot more for at least the next three weeks as Los Angeles' No. 2 cornerback.
Rochell had little time to prepare for his sharply increased role on defense in Seattle during a short week, and he had plenty of ups and downs against the Seahawks, who obviously wanted to text his moxie. Rochell realizes that's the nature of being an inexperienced NFL defensive back, and he refused to back down.
''When I got the notification of what was going to happen, I had to right then put my big-boy shoes on,'' he said. ''I had to be ready. I had to stand up for this team and all the other guys who are going out there day in and day out with me. We all represent each other, so I just tried to go out there with a big heart and a clear mind.''
Rochell committed a 47-yard pass interference penalty that led to the Seahawks' first points when he tackled Tyler Lockett instead of letting him catch a long pass. Rochell later gave up a TD pass to DK Metcalf on which he admitted making a technique mistake.
But Rochell also settled down in his role, and he broke up a pass from Geno Smith to Lockett in the end zone with 3:09 to play, stalling the Seahawks' failed comeback in the Rams' 26-17 victory.
''As a DB, you're no better than your last play,'' Rochell said. ''So the last play, I had to delete it and I had to get ready for the next one, because my next one could be the best play, you know? It only takes one.''
Rochell got the chance to play more because Long struggled as the Rams' nickel back against Arizona in Week 4 during the Rams' only loss. Williams then sprained his ankle last week in Seattle, and the Rams placed him on injured reserve Tuesday.
Rochell already overcame several setbacks this season: He had surgery on his left wrist in July, and he's still wearing a cast that affects his ball skills. He then missed a key block on special teams during Week 2 in Indianapolis, which apparently contributed to the fact he didn't play at all in Week 3.
Los Angeles seems comfortable trusting Rochell to play most of the snaps vacated by Williams, who is likely to be out for only three weeks, coach Sean McVay said. Williams, a waiver wire pickup who played his way into a starting role with LA, made the clinching defensive play with a diving interception in the Rams' win over the Giants last season.
''I like the way Rochell handled himself,'' McVay said. ''He's a mentally tough kid. He's unfazed. ... Certainly wasn't perfect, but his competitiveness, his toughness, all of those things that make you a football player, I thought that was demonstrated.''
Instead of signing a veteran free-agent defensive back or swinging one of the midseason trades for which GM Les Snead is justly known, the Rams appear to be ready to face the Giants with Rochell and Long alongside 2020 All-Pro Jalen Ramsey.
''It might not be one guy'' replacing Williams, McVay said. ''It might be kind of a committee approach. Those things are predicated on, `Are you playing two corners? Are you playing three corners? Do you get into some of your subgroupings where it might even be more than that?' So we're going to explore all measures.''
NOTES: DT Aaron Donald missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury. The Rams said their three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year banged knees with an opponent in Seattle and was still sore, so the Rams decided to rest their defensive cornerstone. He intends to play Sunday. ... K Matt Gay was limited in practice by soreness in his ankle. He is also expected to play Sunday.
Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (shoulder, hamstring) appears to be facing an uphill battle to play in Week 7's game against the Atlanta Falcons, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Parker had been listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited participant in all three of the team's practice sessions throughout the week. If he is declared active for the game, he could be viewed as a flex option in fantasy leagues, although owners should have alternatives available in the event that he misses this afternoon's contest.
Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff is not in danger of losing his job as the team's starting quarterback to QB David Blough, according to multiple sources.
Fantasy Spin: Goff has only thrown two touchdown passes in his last four games and has not reached the 300-yard passing mark since the season opener. With few offensive playmakers on the roster, he should be avoided in most fantasy leagues.
New York Giants wide receiver John Ross (hamstring) is likely to suit up for Sunday's outing against the Panthers. Ross has been dealing with a hamstring issue, although he managed to practice sparingly on Thursday and Friday, which is always a good sign regarding a player's anticipated availability. The former Bengal received an uptick in snaps over the last few weeks. However, with Darius Slayton (hamstring) andEvan Engram (calf) expected to play, andSterling Shepard (hamstring) labeled as a game-time call, Ross should be avoided in all fantasy formats in Week 8.
Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard (shoulder, groin) is expected to play in Week 7's game against the Atlanta Falcons. He was listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited practice participant throughout the week.
Although Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (calf) is unlikely to participate in a light practice session when the team returns from their bye Monday, Oct. 25, he could resume practicing Wednesday, Oct. 27, according to multiple sources. The team is optimistic that he will be able to start Week 8's game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Fantasy Spin: Although Prescott should be started in all fantasy formats when healthy, he makes a somewhat risky option for Week 8 because the Dallas-Minnesota contest will be the Sunday Night Football matchup, which would leave many owners in a bind if he is declared inactive at the last minute. Fantasy owners should check back for frequent updates throughout the week on Prescott's status at practice.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (calf) has been progressing in the right direction after being injured during the Week 6 matchup against the New England Patriots. Prescott spent most of his bye week in the pool, and he should be ready to practice by Wednesday. Nonetheless, fantasy managers should continue to monitor his status and await his official designation ahead of the Week 8 outing in Minnesota.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) is out for Week 7 versus the Panthers. However, while he has a slight chance to make it back for Monday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs, fantasy managers realistically shouldn't expect him back until Week 9 versus the Oakland Raiders. Nonetheless, until Barkley is ready to return, Devontae Booker will likely continue to handle duties out of the backfield and has plenty of appeal in all formats.
Washington Football Team QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) is still relying on crutches to get around and is not close to returning to action, according to multiple sources. He is expected to undergo an MRI exam in the next few weeks and appears unlikely to return before the team's Week 9 bye on Nov. 7.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzpatrick's rehab process has not moved as quickly as initially hoped and there is a possibility that he won't return to the field this season. Taylor Heinicke will continue to serve as Washington's No. 1 quarterback in the interim and can be a starting option in two-quarterback fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will start Week 7's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Spin: Garoppolo had been sidelined recently because of a calf injury but is no longer listed on the team's injury report after logging two limited practice sessions and one full session during the week. Although he won't have to worry about sharing offensive snaps with injured QB Trey Lance (knee) this weekend, Garoppolo is only worthy of being a starting option in two-quarterback fantasy leagues.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram (calf) is expected to play in Week 7's game against the Carolina Panthers, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Engram had been listed as questionable on the injury report after missing practice Thursday, Oct. 21, and participating in a limited practice session Friday, Oct. 22. If he is declared active for the game, he should be viewed as a low-end TE1 option in deeper fantasy leagues.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring) is considered a game-time decision for Week 7's game against the Carolina Panthers, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Shepard sustained a hamstring injury during practice Thursday, Oct. 21, and was officially designated as questionable after participating in the following day's practice session on a limited basis. If he is declared active, he should be viewed as a WR3 or flex option for fantasy leagues.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (calf) and wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring) are likely to play Sunday against the Panthers. ESPN's Adam Schefter notes that the two should be good to go unless they suffer a setback in pre-game warmups. Engram and Slayton have had limited roles so far- but could be pivotal players against Carolina with the Giants already down Saquon Barkley (ankle), Kenny Golladay (knee), and Kadarius Toney (ankle). The Panthers have a stingy pass defense, ranking seventh in pass DVOA, though Engram and Slayton could see enough volume to make an impact this week.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (shoulder, hamstring), listed as questionable, is looking iffy for Sunday's game against the Falcons. Parker seemed to take a step in the right direction, as he was a limited participant at practice after not taking the field for any sessions the previous week. Fellow wideout Preston Williams (groin) is also questionable for the contest. If Parker misses another game, look for rookie Jaylen Waddle, coming off of a 10-catch, 70-yard, two-touchdown game, to command a large number of targets once again in an excellent matchup against Atlanta. Mike Gesicki should also continue to see his fair share of work in the passing game. Both are strong plays Sunday.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (shin), dealing with a nagging injury, is expected to suit up Sunday against the Packers. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Gibson was dealing with a hairline fracture in his shin earlier in the year, an injury that seemed to pop back up during last week's contest. Bothered by the injury, the star halfback has yet to exceed the 100-yard scrimmage mark since Week 3- though he does have three touchdowns in his last three games played. Gibson remains in starting territory thanks to his talent and a favorable matchup against a Packers defense that ranks 30th in rush DVOA. He will likely continue to be more touchdown-dependent than usual.
Philadelphia Eagles LB Genard Avery was fined $5,111 by the National Football League for getting in the face of Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette late in Week 6's game and taking a critical penalty.
Los Angeles Rams RB Sony Michel (shoulder) is expected to play in Week 7's game against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Sean McVay.
Fantasy Spin: Michel had been listed as questionable on the injury report after logging two limited practice sessions during the week. He should see a decent number of offensive snaps this afternoon and can be considered as a flex option in deeper fantasy leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars S Rayshawn Jenkins was fined $10,300 by the National Football League for his actions in Week 6's game against the Miami Dolphins.
There is optimism that Tennessee Titans WR Julio Jones (hamstring) will play in Week 7's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Jones had been listed as questionable on the injury report after logging two limited practice sessions during the week. Despite the favorable matchup against the Kansas City defense, he should be viewed as a risky WR3 or flex option in fantasy leagues.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) expressed optimism that he would be ready to play against Kansas City, with NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noting that that is the team's expectation. Jones suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago, sidelining him for two games- though he aggravated the injury during his team's win over the Bills on Monday night. Still, it seems like Jones, who will take on a Chiefs defense that ranks 31st in pass DVOA, will be out there for a big game Sunday. His recent injury track record makes him a risky play, but it could pay off if Sunday's game becomes high-scoring.